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Zelnick on GTA 6: "We stay away from claiming victory until it's occurred"

Take-Two CEO also discusses how the publisher is weathering a turbulent market

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In case you missed the news yesterday, the first trailer for the next Grand Theft Auto will be shown in early December – and to say people are excited would be an understatement.

At the time of writing, Rockstar president Sam Houser's post on X (formerly Twitter) announcing the trailer already has 1.4 million Likes, 479,000 reposts, 45,000 bookmarks, and a few enthusiastic responses from other industry players – from Xbox's "We love an early present" to Devolver's offer of publishing services.

The hype is understandable. It's been over ten years since the last Grand Theft Auto, and the previous release just happens to be one of the most successful entertainment products of all time.

Grand Theft Auto 5 has made well over $800 million since launch and, as of Take-Two's most recent financial results, sold more than 190 million copies – second only to Minecraft. This is thanks in no small part to GTA Online, and the fact that GTA 5 is consistently among the biggest-selling games every month across charts worldwide, even a decade after release.

With player expectations clearly high, we ask Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick what he expects from the upcoming blockbuster. GTA 5 has enjoyed success few AAA games have ever come close to, so it's safe to assume the publisher is at least hoping to build on that with the long-awaited sequel.

"We don't tend to set particular expectations for any future releases," Zelnick tells "Our job is to be the most creative, the most innovative, and the most efficient entertainment company in the world.

"All of our creative teams at all of our labels are trying to create perfection. And the result of that has been that we have 11 franchises that have each sold over five million units in individual releases, and that we have the largest and most diverse collection of owned intellectual property across mobile and console in the interactive entertainment business.

"Our job is to be the most creative, most innovative, and most efficient entertainment company in the world"

"It's a result of that strategy and the extraordinary effort of our creative team that has led us now to become the No.2 pure play interactive entertainment company on earth. So we stay away from claiming victory until it's occurred – but we're super optimistic about the company's line up across the board."

As we reported around Take-Two's earnings, Zelnick views what Rockstar has done to fight the typical decay curve for both blockbuster games and live service offerings as "nothing short of extraordinary," Zelnick says. GTA 5 and Online showed better-than-expected results this quarter, contributing to total net bookings of $1.44 billion.

Take-Two also reported that its GTA+ membership program continued to grow. This subscription gives GTA Online players a monthly drop of money, cars, and other items, as well as other in-game services and access to classic Rockstar games.

When we discuss the rise of subscriptions, Zelnick says he's more confident in this type of programme than library-style subscription services.

"Game Pass is kind of the equivalent of Netflix for audiovisual linear entertainment," he says. "I'm sceptical that subscription services that look like game versions of Netflix are really what consumers want in a broad way. I think it may work for catalogue [titles]. I've said this over the years, it's turned out so far to be true… But we do support subscription services with our catalogue."

We turn the conversation to the broader market, which is enduring a turbulent year. On the one hand, you have a string of massive success stories – Hogwarts Legacy, Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Baldur's Gate 3, Diablo 4, Spider-Man, and so on – but on the other, there are widespread layoffs and restructures with a reported 6,000-plus jobs lost since January.

"Many of our competitors overbuilt during the enthusiasm of the pandemic and now they're rationalising"

Take-Two appears to be relatively unscathed, so we ask Zelnick how this was accomplished.

"I think many of our competitors overbuilt during the enthusiasm of the pandemic and they're rationalising now," he says. "I think we were a little bit more moderate.

"We have a three-part strategy – innovation, creativity, and efficiency – and I think our focus on efficiency [means that] on an ongoing basis, we're always rightsizing the team. We did go through an integration process when we acquired Zynga and that did allow us to gain efficiencies at that time."

He adds that the market is becoming more competitive and more challenging, but he remains optimistic for 2024.

"The only thing we can do is be lean, be innovative and be creative," he says, later adding: "Our priorities remain to create a disproportionate number of hits, and to bring the highest quality entertainment experiences to consumers around the world of whatever type they want, however they want them delivered.

"That's always our challenge and, you know, we reiterated our outlook for 2024. So that's pretty much how we see things for fiscal 24."

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James Batchelor avatar
James Batchelor: James is Editor-in-Chief at, and has been a B2B journalist since 2006. He is author of The Best Non-Violent Video Games
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Grand Theft Auto 6

PS5, Xbox Series X/S

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